Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

If I’m being honest I wasn’t one hundred per cent behind this movie being made.

Chadwick Boseman was such a massive presence in the first outing, and the Avengers movies, then I thought replaciing him wouldn’t work for the sequel.

And when I found out that the original Black Panther character wasn’t going to appear at all … Mmm.

Hopefully, I’m not giving too much away by saying that in Wakanda Forever, the most secretive, most advanced nation on Earth finds itself without T’Challa; the latest in an ages-old dynasty of rulers who’ve carried the mantle of Black Panther.

This leaves Queen Ramonda (played by Angela Bassett) and her daughter Shuri (Letitia Wright) to hold the nation together in the face of threats from the outside world (who think Wakanda is weakened without its King) and a new threat from the ocean depths …

It was a brave decision to remove the original Panther, rather than replace him with another character; and now I’ve seen the movie, I think it was the right course to take. Not only does it provide a deeper look at the nation of Wakanda seem through the eyes of non-superhumans, it also puts a cast of black women firmly at the centre of the whole script – and that’s something very rare in an action movie.

The special effects are there; the excitingly improbable fight sequences – yup, there too. The plot works, just about, though I thought there were one or two iffy moments that had me scratching my head.

And jokes; yes, there are jokes, though it’s certainly not the level of tongue-in-cheekness that we’re used to seeing from the Marvel Studios, but then that shouldn’t really be a surprise: as well as being an action movie, it’s also a tribute to a cast member who’s presence was greatly missed. Along the way, we had a few sequences from Boseman as the Panther King.

So yes, it’s a great movie, not the best in stable, but still plenty to enjoy, with enough jaw-dropping, edge-of-your-seat moments. And along the way, you’ll probably find yourself thinking, “Yes, he was taken far too soon.”

A fine tribute to a great actor.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

The Marvel Studios MultiPhasic Blockbuster Franchise Factory drops another massive earner onto an eager pandemic-weary public, and as you’d expect, it’s good. It’s really good.

Bizarre, but in a good way.

The successfully understated Benedict Cumberbatch reprises his role as Doctor Strange, Earth’s one-time Sorcerer Supreme (long story) who finds himself locking spells with a former hero turned multiversal megalomaniac. The story, a expertly-blended tale of power, loss, and regret, takes us across several continents, and several universes where we meet some familiar faces from a franchise far far away. Great stuff – just what the good doctor ordered.

What I really liked about this movie (aside from the humour, the action, the special effects) was the sense of growth. The script, combined with Cumberbatch’s performance showed a powerful man trying to prevent himself from being consumed by it – and his own, almost superhuman arrogance makes the ordeal so much harder. And the other characters grow along the way – even the villain.

The best Marvel outing this year?

Probably.

The Batman

I wasn’t really expecting to enjoy this (then why did you see it, dummy!) because whoever is in charge of grinding DC’s finest heroes from comic books into movies hasn’t quite managed to hit the Marvel Studios level of grandeur and entertainment. Yup, they take themselves far too seriously.

The Batman should be different though; it’s meant to be taken far too seriously. In that regard, they hit the mark: the film is somber (bordering on the gothic), shot mostly at night or in the dark. (Can no one living in the Wayne Mansion remember where the light switches are?)

The writers don’t bother spending an hour or so on Batman’s origin; they assume everyone knows it, and quite rightly so. If you don’t (for some reason) then there are plenty of hints along the way. Besides which, the movie already weighs in at 3 hours – any longer would’ve stretched the attention span of the most ardent Dark Knight fan.

Continue reading “The Batman”
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